Holidays can be quite hard for some people. The Christmas carols, the endless lists of shopping to do, the planning of the meals, trying to squeeze into that festive dress that mysteriously became tighter since all of the plates of goodies came streaming into the office or the occasional get together with friends. It can all be daunting and stressful to say the least.
In adoption, facing Holidays can often mean facing demons that linger in the deepest parts of our hearts. For many, this Season is for reconnecting with family we may have not seen for a while. But for many in adoption, this Season is just a reminder of what it is that they do not have. For some adoptees this whole month and a half of Holidays is just a reminder that they have a family somewhere that they do not know. It can be very hard to sit with people that you know loves you, that you know cherishes the person that you are, and you know that they only want to make you feel welcome within their families. However, even with all the love and acceptance that is bestowed upon those adoptees, there are those that most likely have a feeling that they do not belong. All the love in the world cannot squash the need to know who you are and where you come from. And that need to know who you are is never stronger than the Season meant for family, friends and giving. I can certainly understand when an adoptee tells me they do not like the Holidays.
For those of us in the birth family, Holidays are hit and miss. Some years are good. Some years are unbearable. Yet some years, depending on where one is in the healing process, can be filled with hope and peace. I admit that Holidays in the beginning were very difficult. I would go through the motions, open the presents, smile and talk with loved ones, eat a hearty meal and then send everyone off with well wishes and all the while my head was somewhere else. It was not always sad for me, but rather just thinking about what it was that I was missing was my demon. My mind would not stop thinking about how their hearts felt on Christmas morning. Did they know that there was someone thinking only of them on Christmas? Did they know that there was someone missing them on Christmas Eve as they were preparing for Santa to come? Were they baking cookies? Do they stay up late waiting to catch a glimpse of the Big Man putting presents under the tree? What do they want most this year? Will they ever understand just how much I love them?
But, the older I got the easier the Holidays became. Instead of beating myself up about how much they did not know I was missing them, I would think of how much they were loved and cared for. I thought of how much they were loved by those that surrounded them. I thought about how amazing it was that they were growing into their own selves, their own people. I learned to forgive myself for all the guilt I carried for not raising them. I learned to let go, to accept that that cannot be changed. I learned to love myself for the person I was because after all, I would like to think that my children would want me to love myself. I learned that life is not always going to be what we want it to be, and in that thought why not just let go and allow life to love me for a change? I learned after years of soul searching and facing those demons of Holidays past that I am my own destiny. I am a mother of loss, but I am not a lost mother.
It may be easier to read than to do, but let my journey teach you this about adoption: No matter what side of adoption you are from and no matter what circumstances brought you to where you are, YOU are the one that has to live with you. YOU are the one who chooses what path to take in life. YOU are ultimately responsible for you, and once you learn to love yourself for all that you are then you can begin to forgive yourself for all your misgivings. No one else can be you, and there is no reason to let someone else define who you are. The Holidays were not meant to remind us of what we don't have, but rather to embrace what it is that we DO have ... and hopefully we can recognize that life is what we make of it.